I have never talked in depth about mental health, my own struggles with it or body image negativity. In the hope that someone else will find reassurance in my words as I took comfort in what others said, I decided to have a proper chat about how I learned to love my wonky teeth and my smile.
Anyone who knows me personally knows that I’m always smiling and goofing around, but what a lot of people don’t know is how insecure and embarrassed I felt for years about my teeth. I remember how all the negative comments from family members and the bullies at school made it really difficult for me to even talk (since my teeth were showing), let alone embrace any positivity regarding my smile. Thus, I always hid my smile from the flash of the camera and avoided social situations just to avoid smiling. All the hatred towards my own smile resulted in really low self-confidence and an awful lot of missed opportunities. With the help of my therapist and my friends I came to the conclusion that I, just as everyone else, deserve to express my happiness through a large smile regardless of what my teeth look like. As years passed there came a more mature approach to body image. How can wonky teeth make anyone less beautiful? Why are there such things as ‘beauty standards’? I realized that beauty is subjective and if I can love someone’s wonky teeth and consider their smile beautiful, why can’t I love my own smile and teeth as well?
Today I love smiling. Yes, it still is a place of vulnerability for me, but vulnerability isn’t weakness anymore. Body positivity is a hard journey with lots of ups and downs and our feelings are always changing, but once we acknowledge that we are beautiful in our own unique way and our flaws are not really flaws but traits that makes us who we are, we are ready to claim our right to happiness. Please start building a positive body image and work on your mental health issues, don’t let yourself drown in negativity. If you feel like it is too difficult to do it on your own ask for help, there is absolutely no shame in seeking help. Be yourself and love yourself.